In an op-ed published in the Portsmouth Herald, Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-NH) continued her push for a taxpayer-funded rent subsidy program that would disproportionately benefit big-city renters in Boston, New York and San Francisco.
“To strengthen economic opportunity, it is clear that hard-working families need relief from the rising cost of rent, which is why I have joined with colleagues to introduce the Rent Relief Act of 2018,” Sen. Hassan wrote.
“Under this legislation, those who live in rental housing and pay more than 30 percent of their gross income on rent, including utilities, would be eligible for a refundable tax credit. This assistance would be given on a sliding scale based on income and would phase out at high income levels.”
“The Rent Relief Act is a straightforward way to support those who are affected by skyrocketing rent prices,” Hassan said.
But who is paying these “skyrocketing rent prices?”
Forbes recently listed the top 15 “Worst Cities for Renters.” The number that are in New Hampshire? Zero. (Boston is on the list.)
Of the 17 cities that saw the highest rent increases on a percentage basis last year, zero are in New Hampshire. (Boston is on the list.)
Yes, it’s true that New Hampshire’s rents are higher than the national average, but it’s also true that the Granite State has the 7th highest average household income and the 5th per capita income in the country. As NHJournal has reported previously:
Meanwhile, Nashua, NH is ranked #12 on the overall “Best Places To Rent” list, and Manchester’s a respectable #34 out of 182. Their rankings on costs alone are a bit lower (#57 and #72) but they’re both more affordable than the national average. In other words, if Sen. Hassan gets her way, New Hampshire will be a net contributor to rent subsidies, and your money will go to places like California, Connecticut and Massachusetts.
According to her op-ed, “the median two-bedroom rent in Rockingham County [is] $1,456 a month.” In Boston it’s $2,099/month. In New York City it’s $2,512. In San Francisco, that number is $3,088!
And then there’s the economics. What happens to rents when the government starts giving away money to subsidize them? They go up. For everyone. It’s supply and demand.
Say Phil and Sue–hardworking taxpayers who’ve carefully managed their money– want to rent a nice Manchester apartment for $1,500, and they’ve made the lifestyle decisions they need to afford it. But when they show up, Paul and Sally want to rent it, too. They can’t really afford it, but now that Sen. Hassan is giving them a free check (paid for in part by Phil and Sue’s tax dollars) they’re in the market for an upgrade!
So what does the landlord do? She raises the rent, of course!
As economist Jeffery Dorfman writes at Forbes, Hassan’s proposal should be called the “Landlord Enrichment and Taxpayer Fleecing Act.”
The good news is that the GOP-controlled Congress is unlikely to back Hassan’s bill. Some Republicans object on ideological grounds, while others don’t want to fund a giveaway to the deepest-blue big cities in the country.